Milan Bergamo secures West Africa link

Blue Panorama Airlines is to launch flights between Milan Bergamo (BGY) and Dakar (DSS), the capital of Senegal, in what will become the Italian airport’s longest route and first destination in West Africa.

Rome-based Blue Panorama plans to open a 2X-weekly service from Oct. 23, with a third weekly frequency set to be added during mid-December. Flights will be onboard Boeing 737 aircraft.

The carrier will become the third to launch flights between the two cities since July as airlines seek to fill a gap in the market left by the demise of Air Italy.

“Last year there were more than 120,000 direct and indirect passengers between the Milan market and Dakar, so we are extremely happy Blue Panorama have realised the significant demand in the market,” BGY airport operator SACBO director of commercial aviation Giacomo Cattaneo said.

“The area around the stunning city of Bergamo has one of the largest Senegalese communities in Italy and, with the airline being recently awarded the traffic rights to serve Senegal from the Italian CAA, we look forward to working with them during what will no doubt be a successful future,” he added.

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According to data provided by Sabre Market Intelligence, O&D traffic between World Routes 2021 host Milan and Dakar has increased from 80,000 in 2015 to 114,000 in 2019.

Air Italy previously operated a 4X-weekly nonstop service from Milan Malpensa (MXP) to DSS using Airbus A330-200s, providing more than 2,000 two-way seats. However, the Qatar Airways-backed carrier suspended operations in February, leaving the cities of Milan and Dakar unserved.

Italian carrier Neos Air picked up the MXP-DSS route in July and is now offering 2X-weekly Boeing 737 flights, while Air Senegal will begin serving the same route in September. Senegal’s national airline will operate 3X-weekly flights using Airbus A319s.

Blue Panorama’s new route from BGY comes as more carriers begin to resume services from the airport. Air Arabia Maroc restarted links to Casablanca (CMN) in mid-July, while Air Arabia Egypt has resumed Cairo (CAI) and launched flights to Borg El Arab (HBE). Pegasus Airlines has also resumed Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (SAW).

In addition, Air Albania began a 4X-weekly Tirana (TIA) service last month and Wizz Air plans to start flying to St Petersburg (LED) in October. Wizz will initially provide 4X-weekly flights, rising to daily in December.

“It’s rewarding to see that, while it’s been a difficult year for all within aviation, we continue to ensure our efforts are directed to providing the best network Milan Bergamo can offer its customers,” Cattaneo said.

“Notwithstanding the pandemic, we are also progressing our infrastructure work. Having completed the extra-Schengen departures area, we are now preparing the brand-new extra-Schengen arrivals area which is expected to be ready before the end of September.

“To ensure we meet the demands of capacity, as well as keeping all our passengers safe, we’ve also begun the extension of the Schengen departures and arrivals area which are expected to be finished [in summer 2021] in time for the rescheduled World Routes event which will take place in Milan.”

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.